For Teachers, Children's Literature @ NYPL
Booktalking "Duchess" by Ellen Miles
In the wonderful Kitty Corner series by Ellen Miles, Mia and Michael and their family foster cats and kittens who need a temporary home, much like people foster children. Mia met Duchess through her friend Logan, who alerted her to the fact that Duchess's owner Abby was moving to Iceland, and she did not want to subject the gorgeous white Persian to weeks and weeks of kenneling. Mia and Michael's parents let them foster cats to determine if they are ready and willing to accept the responsibility of caring for a permanent cat.
At first, Duchess, unfortunately, is not thrilled to arrive at Mia and Michael's house, due to her longing for her previous owner Abby. During the first night, she does not emerge from her carrier. She does not play with Mia right away, and she does not eat for four days. However, Abby helped by recommending feeding Duchess in her favorite special bowl, and luckily she resumed eating. She got happier, and was tried in a home with rambunctious kitten Boone, who she did not get along with well. What other homes will Duchess try before finding the right one?
Duchess by Ellen Miles
My Foster Cats: My experience with fostering cats dates back to my graduate education in Albany. I made the mistake of agreeing to foster a cat family, a queen (female cat) and several kittens, who I believe were a week or two old. Unfortunately, I was really worried that my studies were going to suffer because all I wanted to do when I got home from class was play with the kittens. They were adorable though. Some months later, I fostered an orange-and-white tabby who was suspected to have rabies. Later, I fostered a matching gray mother and kitten.
Ready to Adopt? Originally, I fostered cats to attempt to determine if I wanted to adopt a cat or cats. After these fostering experiences, I adopted an American short hair cat in 2002. I adopted an Egyptian Mau mix in 2008.
A Tuxedo Kitten: At that point, I thought I was done fostering, but then I fostered an adorable black-and-white kitten I named Smudgie for the ASPCA in New York. He just needed to gain enough weight to be two pounds so that he could be neutered and adopted. He was so cute; I kept him for a week.
Adopting Again: Then I adopted an Exotic mix (basically a short-haired Persian) from Brooklyn in 2010. Again, I thought I was done fostering, since I had three cats. Think again.
Kitten season: This spring, a friend came to me for help with his cats, since he knew that I liked cats. He had a queen and three kittens, all matching orange-and-white ticked tabbies. He invited me to see them and they were completely adorable. Of course, as soon as I saw them, I was plotting to get them into my care. I nonchalantly offered to foster them in my apartment until the kittens were ready to be weaned, and I would find homes for the kittens. My friend agreed, and chaos ensued in my house.
Ankle biters: I already had three cats, so the cat family lived in my bedroom. During the first week, one of the kittens hissed at me, and they ran away when I tried to touch them or pick them up. The kittens were three or four weeks old when I got them. After a couple of weeks, they warmed up and got to appreciate being petted. Everything they did was adorable. They sometimes sat up like big cats and groomed themselves. They jumped on their mother and nursed. Their relationships with each other were precious. They licked each other and bit down upon each other's necks.
Rug rats: I dreaded looking in the room every morning and evening to find out what messes they had created. Sometimes I observed babies swimming in the water bowl. Water all over the floor near the water bowl. Other times, I saw two kittens mountain climbing in the closet. Then, I saw the mother, Ginger, leading them. I was so frustrated with her. I expected her to provide a good example for her kittens, and she was not doing that. Oh, well. I pulled them out and shut the closet door securely. "There are too many kitties in the closet!!!", I told them. The ideal number being zero. Every time I entered the bedroom, I braced myself because a kitten might come flying at me. The girl kitten, my favorite, had a habit of running to the door every time I opened it with her tail up and eyes bright. The kittens dragged my socks about the room and shredded my Con Edison bills. They always found something to do. They were so soft, and they loved exploring the world. It was pandemonium in my house with seven cats.
Kittens Get Adopted: I gave one of the boy kittens to my veterinarian, who knew a family who was looking for a kitten. I went to the vet's office a couple of weeks later, and he said that the kitten was doing very well and the family really liked his temperament. I gave the other two kittens, a boy and a girl, to the ASPCA a couple of weeks later, when they were seven or eight weeks old and they had finished nursing. I was fascinated by watching them grow, develop, and interact with each other, but I have to admit that it was a huge relief, and a lot less work, not to have them.